The disturbing and concerning results of a recent study have been released showing that LGBTI youth who have strong religious beliefs are more likely to be prone to suicide and self-harm.
The research which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine aimed to assess the links between the importance of religion and suicidal thoughts and attempts among young LGBTI people in the United States.
Using information collated by the University of Texas in 2011, the researchers targeted 21,247 college-enrolled young adults who were aged 18 to 30 years.
While many studies have shown that some level of faith generally decreases thoughts of suicide in people, this research shows little effect or the opposite effect among LGBTI people.
Sadly the researchers found that on average, an increased level of faith was associated with higher odds of recent suicidal thoughts for both gay, lesbian and questioning students.
Researchers also found that Lesbian and gay students who viewed religion as a very important part of their lives had greater odds for recent suicidal thoughts and lifetime suicide attempts compared with heterosexual individuals.
Despite bisexual and questioning sexual orientations, in general, being proven to have heightened risks of recent suicidal thoughts, recent attempts, and lifetime attempts, the new research highlights that such incidents become even more prominent among those who reported that religion was very important.
The researchers concluded that current religion-based services for mental health and suicide prevention appear to be failing LGBTI people, and have called on these service providers to actively ensure that their services are open and supportive of LGBTI individuals.
“Religious groups who stigmatise LGBT people should be aware of the potential damage they can do to an individual and families, and honestly the damage they do to themselves as an organisation,” study co-author John R. Blosnich told HuffPost.
Speaking with Reuters, Blosnich added, “We are definitely not saying that religion, period, is bad; it’s not.”
“There are many sexual minority people who find great strength and great sources of support in their religious communities, but unfortunately we hear many stories about people who do not.”